Keeping the Vet Away

Now, don’t get me wrong. We love our vet. But let’s be honest; no one wants to see their pooches sick, or the multi-figure bill that follows. We have been working to make Miss Georgia a more healthy member of society since she came into our care, but the process began long before that.

When Georgia was pulled from the shelter in the state of Georgia, she was a severely malnourished new mama with major skin issues, and was also determined to be heartworm positive. Our rescue did a great job of improving her major conditions, but when Georgia came to us (almost a month ago, now!) she was still harboring some ailments.

We noticed pretty quickly that while the rescue had identified a few ways to manage Georgia’s skin sensitivities (weekly baths, prescription shampoos, etc.), we felt confident that a change in diet would show a major, and more permanent, improvement in her condition. We switched Georgia to a limited ingredient, grain-free, dry dog food, with a novel protein and carbohydrate source. This can be a great way to identify your dog’s allergies or sensitivities. In Georgia’s case, she has responded much more positively to this new diet. The itching and chewing she used to do almost incessantly has completely subsided, as have the rashes on her tummy and paws.

Look at that healthy, shiny coat!

The other issue that worried us was some sensitivity in Georgia’s spine and hips. She would hesitate or shudder when asked to sit, and would wince noticeably when even the lightest pressure was applied to her hind end. She also had very irregular, sometimes strained, bowel movements. After an appointment with the renowned Dr. David Smolensky, our adored canine chiropractor, we have seen some major improvements in this area. We will continue to make trips to the chiro until her back has strengthened, but feel so grateful that we are able to help make Georgia more comfortable. We can venture many guesses as to what has made her so sore, but all that matters is that she deserves to be free from pain.

As Georgia lays curled up beside me, snoring, I also recognize an improvement in her general attitude. Her weight has decreased to a more manageable level, and she has become a happier, more active pooch. She still prefers to cuddle up for couch time, over exercise any day! But play time lasts longer, and we see more pittie-smiles every day!

“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Today we will entertain a question from one of our littlest fans! Her name is Lilly, and she is the most endearing and precocious two-year-old, whose mama runs the touching blog, The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood.

Apparently, Miss Lilly was fascinated by the pictures of our pooches. Her lingering question… where do all of the puppies sleep at night? I realized that perhaps some of our (bigger) readers, might have some of the same questions.

Tonka’s preferred sleeping location

Perhaps we should begin with where our two perma-dogs, Tonka & Gaige, are supposed to sleep… in their Tempur-pedic (yes, don’t judge!) beds at the foot of our own. But, more often than not, I awaken in the middle of the night to two LARGE dogs laying on top of my legs, stomach, head, etc. Until recently, I blamed the two little scoundrels for their disobedience. Little did I know, that Foster Dad (previously Mr. No-Dogs-in-the-House) felt guilty, and was inviting them into the bed! What a sneak sap!

And Gaige’s preferred sleeping position…

As far as Miss Georgia, oftentimes the most obedient of my FOUR (hehe)… we have chosen to have her sleep in her kennel, which is in her own room. This was in an effort to: 1) Keep all three dogs safe when unsupervised overnight, since we haven’t yet completed their introductions

and…

2) Make her more adaptable to most families that might choose to adopt her. While Georgia is used to sleeping on her own, and happy to be in her kennel, I am confident that she would adapt quite well to being allowed to sleep with her people.

My favorite picture of Gia, to date

Thank you to Miss Lilly for the great question… anything else out there that our readers are just dying to know about Miss Georgia, or the rest of the five?!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I would say, full of lots of playtime and walks, but Georgia told me tell you that she hopes your weekend is full of lots of cuddles and naps! I know her’s will be. 😉

{She is cuddled up on the bed beside me, with the cat, as we speak!}

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.

This Old Dog Learns New Tricks

I have to start by saying, thank you SO MUCH to all of you that commented and emailed your advice to us. It is much appreciated! We will be taking all of your tips and suggestions to heart. It is so nice to know that we have many friends and supporters as we face new challenges with fostering. All of us blogging fosters are a little community… know that we are happy to repay the favor anytime you need support!

I try to keep this space very organized and methodical… much like I try to maintain my life! But my world is feeling very topsy-turvy disorganized right about now, so this particular post may be much the same. I apologize in advance!

Gia wrestling with Foster Dad. Her signature move? The Kiss of Death

Have I mentioned lately the fabulousness that is Foster Dad?! He really is the most supportive husband I could ask for… he is my perfect life partner. While I was working yesterday, he was on afternoon doggie walk duty. Which, can be a bit hectic, given that we are still doing some pooch rotating, rather than releasing the hounds all together. Not only that, but while playing with Miss Gia outside, my notoriously terrible multi-tasker was also pooper scooping. For a dog-loving Foster Mama, does it get much hotter than that?! Some of you out there know what I’m talking about… and the rest probably think I’m crazy.

Best friends

Anyways, what may sound like a silly story turned into an opportunity for us to learn more about Georgia girl. As Foster Dad was wielding the shovel with skill, he leaned down to give Gia some lovin’… and she proceeded to melt down onto the ground into a terrified, shivering puddle. 😦 Poor baby. She adores her Foster Dad, at least as much as she does me. They share a special bond, so the fact that with a shovel in hand, she didn’t trust him, made J feel terrible. As soon as the tool was down on the ground, she came back up to him wiggle-waggling, but it just reminded us that you will learn new things about your pup’s past everyday. This is why it is so important to approach their training process with sensitivity and understanding, as well as a willingness to adapt your methods as you learn more about your dog. Every dog is different, every dog’s past is different, and maintaining flexibility in your approach will ensure that you provide your dog with a secure foundation for their future. While we have long ago made the decision to only employ training methods of positive-reinforcement, Georgia still deals with issues from her past that create lingering fear and distrust. We will embrace this knowledge as an opportunity to increase her confidence and security in her relationships with us.

He knows the way to this girl’s heart

Not to get too philosophical here, but isn’t that a great way to approach life in general? Whether two or four-legged, we never know what challenges others have faced or are currently facing. If we kept in mind that everyone has their own battles to fight and insecurities to face, perhaps we would not be so quick to make their paths more difficult. We should all be so busy pursuing the improvement of our own journeys, that we have no time to judge the actions of others. Jonathan and I approach our marriage with the philosophy that if both spouses are consistently putting their partner’s desires first, everyones’ needs are met; but what if we brought that theory to all of the relationships in our lives? We would all feel constantly empowered and embraced. To me, that is what life is all about: doing what I can to improve the happiness and experiences of those around me.

“Let the refining and improving of your own life, keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.” — H. Jackson Brown Jr.

{Okay, sorry… end soap box.}

You should all know that our brain-storming idea of sharing one of Georgia’s only flaws, actually may have worked! We have a family that sounds pretty darn ideal who is very interested in our baby doll Gia. Fingers crossed that it works out… so far they seem like a match made in heaven! It would be great to have Georgia in her forever home in time for the holidays. We will keep you posted.

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.

Must Love Dogs

We have all heard the urban legend of the stunningly ideal ‘catch’ of a woman; beauty, brains, compassion, ambition, all in one package (no, I’m not describing myself!) This woman may complain that sometimes she is not approached by men, because they are intimidated by her perfection.

You are pawsitively beautiful.

After talking with Foster Dad, we think that this just might be what is going on with our precious little Georgia girl as she searches for her forever family. The dating world can be daunting, and while she has had a few casual suitors, there have been no potential matches that Foster Dad could entertain for devoted interest. That is to say, they must not have had the purest of intentions with our little lady. Or, maybe it is just that she has so many fabulous qualities, that they assume she will be scooped up by another family?

So, let’s break the illusion; while we know Georgia would make someone a fabulous four-legged family member, she is not perfect! There, we said it. And we would love your help as we improve her obedience training in order to make her even more adoptable!

When Georgia is comfortable in her environment, she is a very relaxed and low-key dog. However, when introduced to new situations or new people, she gets nervous. One way she displays this behavior is by jumping up on people when she meets them. She is full of love and kisses, but a large pit bull jumping up at someone with their mouth wide open is not everyone’s idea of a great first date!

We would like to enroll Georgia in some obedience classes in order to increase her confidence, which we think will go a long way towards helping her with this issue. But, we want to know; what challenges have you faced when training your dogs, foster or otherwise? Maybe you’ve had the same issue, or maybe it is a different one. How did you overcome it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue we are facing with Miss Gia.

 

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.

Dog Pack

“If you don’t own a dog, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”

I have always said that people come into our lives for different reasons. Oftentimes if we look at the people we choose to surround ourselves with, they may represent a spectrum of personalities. Maybe these people encourage us to display varying aspects of our identity, or simply serve distinctive purposes in our lives.

For example, most of us have that friend from our childhood. The person with whom you share early memories and silly stories, inside jokes that no one else understands. You grow up spending as much time with their family as your own, and maybe even become something like siblings.

Some of us have friends from college, the people that are there to support us and help us grow, as we go through one of the biggest life transitions. You cram for exams, spend late nights together, and hold each other during heartbreak.

We have friends that are there for the fun times, to grab drinks or go for manicures. They are our good time friends, with whom we share wild stories and lots of laughs, but maybe nothing deeper. And that’s okay!

Then there are the friends that hold a part of our soul. For me, this person shares a passion for the same sport, but she is also always there to pick me up when times are hard. She never hesitates to set aside her own issues when I need her. She is the epitome of selfless. Her advice is boundless and always offered without criticism or judgement. She always offers me the benefit of the doubt, and knows that although I certainly don’t always get it right, my heart is full of the best of intentions for others.

While all of these people hold a vital place in my heart, as well as in the story of my life, today’s post is about a different type of person. A person that I bet all of you know, and value… the person we trust to watch our dogs when we are away.

It must be someone who will treat our dogs with tenderness and compassion, yet maintain our structure and discipline. This person must understand our neurotic tendencies as pet parents the canine nature, and have an idea about training. You must trust that they are good under pressure, and can stick to a routine. Finally, and perhaps most hard to come by, this person must be willing to give up a portion of their time, usually sacred nights and weekends. For me, these people are almost as scarce as working squeaker toys in our home, but I am lucky to know a few. From my perspective, no amount of compensation or thanks will ever truly portray my appreciation.

I met Ellie when I was working as a manager at an equine veterinary clinic. After a stellar interview, I recommended that she be hired for a position as a veterinary technician. Ellie was the person who always showed up on time, if not early, and consistently stayed late. She was willing to do any job, from monotonous stall cleaning to assisting with complex medical cases. She completed every task with a willing attitude and a smile on her face, and was always seeking out new projects to fill idle hours. She could manage criticism from her superiors, even when it was not necessarily constructive, without letting it negatively affect her performance. Perhaps most importantly, Ellie maintained an understanding for our clients, while handling the horses with the perfect combination of skill and compassion. As she embarks on her path to vet school, I know that she will make an incredible veterinarian. Not only do I feel safe when she is watching our pets, but I feel blessed to have such a trustworthy, caring, and responsible person that is willing to devote her time to allow us some freedom.

Foster Dad indulged me this weekend by taking me on a trip to Ohio for a large annual horse show. While we took our two perma-dogs along with us for the ride, we left Georgia and our cat, Bella, home with Ellie. We are so happy to share Ellie’s account of her weekend with Georgia. Enjoy!

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Georgia got to make a new friend this weekend! In order to let foster mom and dad take a weekend trip, I was called in as backup.  An avid animal lover as well, I jumped at the opportunity to meet this sweet girl that I had been reading about.
I was super excited to meet her, but nervous at the same time, as I was worried she would be anxious with foster mom and dad leaving. She was quick to prove my worries wrong, greeting me with hundreds and hundreds of kisses. (Yes, hundreds. I’m not exaggerating or complaining!) She was an all star the entire weekend and was up for whatever it was I wanted to do,
whether that be long walks on the farm…
watching TV… (Bella too!)
studying…
playing tug of war…
or sun-bathing.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with her patience and willingness, as well as how quiet she is (no whining or barking from this girl, not even after being kenneled for bedtime!!) and I think we had a pretty great weekend together.  Hands down, anyone would be lucky to have a dog as great as she is.

Georgia (and her ears!) napping after a long day of fun!

 

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Lions & Tigers & Pitties… Oh my!

“Roarrrr! Do you think they will really believe that I’m a lion, Mom?”

“Hey look! These ears are just like my real ones… always going in two different directions.”

 

“Trick or treat! … You’re laughing at me, aren’t you?”

Georgia Peach Fuzz

Enjoying a fall walk 🙂 Photo by Foster Dad

One of the most precious things about our red Georgia girl, are the little surprises of white thrown in around her body. Her nose, her tummy, her feet, and her tail… little white flashes that break up the red, like the first pure snow flakes of winter, brushing upon amber-hued leaves that still lie on the autumn ground.

Nightly tummy rubs

The patch of white on her tummy feels like cashmere beneath your hands. Or, more appropriately, as soft as the delicate fuzz on a Georgia peach. Where her red coat is sleek, smooth and shiny, the white spots almost disappear beneath your hands. To rest your head on her tummy is to brush your cheek against the inside of your favorite sweatshirt; soft, warm, and worn with love.

Did you notice this special marking?

Most adorable? The tip of her tail, just the end dipped in white, as it thumps quickly against her sides when she greets you. Back and forth, back and forth… thump thump, thump thump.

To read about Georgia is not to fully know her, but to meet her, is to truly love her.

If you think you might know someone that would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.

Applying for the Toughest Job You Will Ever Love

Applying for the Toughest Job You Will Ever Love

For those of you that may be considering becoming foster parents to a lucky shelter dog… first of all, THANK YOU! It is a wonderful gift to be able to assist the rescues, the shelters, and the dogs themselves. In a previous post, I spoke with you about how we are preparing our family and our home for our foster dog. I thought I might give you a bit of background on the process of becoming a foster family.

1. Research Reputable Rescue Groups

I was first introduced to the world of fostering by my friend Francine, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s post. She would share photos on facebook of dogs from the shelters in New York City that have a high kill rate, and I was desperate to find a way to help these highly adoptable dogs before it was too late. You can check them out here, and I urge you to do so if you think it might be the right fit for you. She has even fostered a few pups from there, with the help of this rescue. The problem with this process, is that the dogs have very little time between when they are listed on the website, and when they are euthanized. Added to that, you need to be able to pick the dog up in person at the NYC shelter, within 48 hours of reserving them. With a hectic personal life and work schedule, this was not an option for me. In that case, you can fill out applications through certain rescues that have been approved to pull from the shelter in NYC. These rescues will then typically pick the dogs up from the shelter, and hold them for you until you can arrange transportation. Usually, you will then serve as a foster family for their organization, so before you can select the dog, you must pass their stringent application process.

The problem with this process, for us, was that our applications seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle, even though we submitted them to 4 different approved groups. Knowing what I know now, I should have then gone to the extra effort of finding phone numbers or contact information for individuals within the group, and pursued the matter further. However, being new to the process, I assumed that the rescue would contact me if they had interest in our application.

We also visited a few large, well-known rescues in our area. We attended tours of the facilities, as well as meetings for volunteers and informational sessions for foster families. We were very impressed by their organization, funding, and sheer numbers. However, we felt as though we should search for a group that was smaller, and had a greater need for us.

2. Select the Right Organization for You

We will be working with LCPO, or the Luzerne County Pit Bull Owners, Inc. You can visit their website here, and check out their precious adoptable pooches here! You may be wondering why we would choose an organization in Northeastern Pennsylvania, when we live in Pittsburgh. I asked myself the same thing! I do not want to bash any rescue organizations on here. Every group does the best that they can, with likely limited resources of staff and finances. However, we were very disappointed in the lack of response we got for many of our applications. LCPO was one of the only groups that got back to us right away. Not only that, but they sent us a welcome packet of information, letting us know what their organization was about, important contacts, and what to anticipate when fostering a dog through them, as well as their expectations of their foster families. For a nerd like myself, this influx of information was exactly what I needed! They are a very well-run and organized group, and I feel very lucky to have not only found them, but to have been so warmly welcomed. You can also check them out on their facebook page.

The high level of communication and strong organization of LCPO is what most attracted us to working with them, but when considering the many rescue groups, there are a multitude of important factors to consider.

The financial aspect is vital, as it can vary between rescues. You need to ask yourself what you can afford to contribute financially. Most rescues will cover the animal’s veterinary care, at a minimum. In our case, we are electing to pay for all other costs, including the crate, collars, leashes, food, bed, toys, etc, although this is not a requirement through LCPO. We have budgeted this money into our financial plan, and feel that it is one more way we are able to give back to the rescue group. If this is the route you choose, it is important to save your receipts, as they can serve as a tax-deductible donation to the rescue. Be sure to consider all costs thoroughly, before agreeing to take on a foster animal. The last thing anyone would want, would be for you to have to return the animal because of financial constraints.

Another important consideration will be the time commitment. I am not just referring to how many hours per day of your time that the dog may require. Rather, you must consider how long you are willing to keep the foster. The stay can range from a matter of days, to many months. It is important to be up front with the rescue about what sort of time frame you are able to accommodate. Do not assume that if you can only hold a dog for a few weeks, that you will not be considered. This can be the perfect amount of time for a puppy to get out of a stressful shelter environment, learn some basic manners, and become house-broken. There is usually an ideal dog for every situation, so select a rescue that is willing to work with you to find a scenario that is mutually beneficial.

3. The Application Process

The applications for each rescue we worked with were largely quite similar. One thing that stood out among all of them, was the sheer length! Our final submitted application for LCPO was over 7 pages. To me, this shows that they are thorough in wanting to find out as much as possible about their foster families. However, I did walk away feeling as though they knew more about me than my own employer!

It can be tempting to stretch the truth on the applications you submit. You have high hopes for your plans with the foster, and want to convey this to the rescue organization. However, it is vital to your fostering experience, and for the well-being of the animal they place with you, that you maintain honesty at all times. It is especially important to list the proper information about your own pets, as well as their compatibility with other animals, to ensure the safety of all involved. The rescue will then analyze all of the information that you provide, and match you with a dog that is best suited to your lifestyle.  For example, f you have young children and a busy work life, then a puppy may not be the right fit. Most rescues are not looking for the ‘perfect’ application. They should not turn you away simply because you work, or because you do not have a fenced-in backyard. However, they want to see that you have a knowledge of how a dog should be cared for, and priorities that are in line with their own.

4. The Home Visit

Our own home visit will be occurring this Monday, so I can’t offer much first-hand experience. I should confess that I am feeling a bit nervous about it! Of course, I think that our dogs have the best life any pup could ask for. With lots of room to run, toys to play with, ponds to swim in, and comfy beds for cuddling, it’s pretty much their idea of doggy heaven! However, it may look different from the eyes of our reviewer.

I brought my questions to some other members of the LCPO group, and they assuaged my fears by assuring that it is “to make sure you’re not a crack-head or hoarder“. Whew! After some NA meetings and a deep spring cleaning, I can cross that off of my list. Kidding!! But in reality, they have had instances where potential foster homes were denied, based on their home visit. The main point to keep in mind is that they are wanting to verify that your living situation reflects your application. If you followed my point above, and maintained honesty in your application, then there should be no cause for concern.

Amid the unnecessary butterflies, I am looking forward to our home visit on Monday. It will serve as a great opportunity to get an outside perspective on how to make sure our home will provide the proper shelter for our special pup. There is a precious girl we have in mind, and I want things to be perfect for her. She hasn’t had the easiest life, and she really deserves to share the love that I believe our family can provide.

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In yesterday’s post, I promised to include a new highlight on our blog! Until our own little foster baby arrives, we will share a daily update with you all that will feature some really special adoptable pit bulls. Introducing….

Lilo

You know you want me…

At a mere 14-weeks old, Lilo boasts a pretty impressive resume. His foster mama describes him as ‘calm, and totally sweet.’ He is a professional cuddler, and already successfully house-broken! By adopting Lilo, you get all of the puppy charm, with a head start on training and veterinary care, and little risk of stained carpets! Lilo is extra-special in that he is known as a blue-nosed pit bull. He loves his four-legged foster siblings, has been properly socialized, and gets along well with everyone. LCPO was able to pull Lilo and his siblings from a no-kill shelter when they were 10 weeks old, so information of his early life is limited, but his foster mama has been dedicated to making him a responsible member of the bully society ever since. She is doing a fabulous job of sharing his story, and he has had 146 views on his Petfinder profile this week alone!  If Lilo sounds like the perfect addition to your family (of course he does!) then check him out here. If you love Lilo, but aren’t able to add a pup to your home at this time, we would greatly appreciate you sharing his page and this blog to help him find the forever home that he deserves. Thank you for looking!

How could you say no to those eyes?!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting… a Foster Dog

In case our first post didn’t clue you in, we are both SO excited to become foster parents to a lucky little (or big!) pup. Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to give Jonathan small doses of what we should expect. I want him to be just as much a part of this process, and for him to feel just as prepared, even if he isn’t the one filling out the applications and talking with the rescues. I have done a LOT of research when it comes to the subject of fostering. Jonathan also wants to feel ready, but he leaves the investigative research to me. It may be pretty clear what we will need to do once the dog (finally!) arrives to our home. However, how should a foster family prepare for the dog to make his or her grand entrance?

Relaxing with the Tonkinator

1) Prepare for changes & challenges

For example, I know that the first two weeks will be a really transitory time, which will require a lot of patience and hard work. We will need to keep the foster dog separate from our two perma-dogs, in order to ensure a smooth transition into our family, while still maintaining all of the animals’ quality of life. That means twice the walks, twice the training and cuddle time, twice the baths and meals… twice everything! It won’t be easy, but by taking the introductions as slowly as possible, we are showing our commitment to the dog. Remember, for many of the dogs in shelters, especially pit bulls, their experiences with the world may not have been good. Ever. Some have been abused or fought, some have mild illnesses like kennel cough, while some have been neglected. For many dogs, their only other experience will have come from inside the walls of a loud, cold kennel. While we don’t plan on taking a super challenging case our first time out, it is still important that they go through this next transition of life as seamlessly as possible, and learn that living in a house with loving people is an okay place to be.

2) Plan for Success

“They’ll never find me here…”

Not only will we be working on giving the dog a slow introduction to life outside of the shelter, but it is important to discuss our goals for this pup. While the level of training we will reach with him or her will ultimately be determined by the amount of time they are with us, it is not our goal to teach the dog ‘party tricks’. More importantly, we need to focus on teaching the dog how to be a happy member of a family. I’ve never heard of someone giving up a dog because it couldn’t figure out how to give paw, dance, or roll over. For whatever amount of time this canine is in our care, we will focus on house-breaking and manners, like walking politely on a leash, staying

“How ever did you find me?”

out of the kitchen while we cook, not getting on to furniture unless invited, and how to greet strangers, of both the 2 and 4-legged varieties. For me, I knew I would not be able to devote the time to all 3 of our animals, if I was still working a demanding job. I was able to make some budgeting decisions that would allow me to quit working full-time, while also taking on a few part-time opportunities to bring in additional income. We are lucky to be in this scenario, but it is not without sacrifice! Find out how other families do the work and foster thing simultaneously, by visiting my inspiration, http://loveandaleash.com/.

3) Teamwork

Double-duty

I would not be able to do this without the selfless support of my amazing husband, Jonathan. He is making many sacrifices to afford me this lifestyle. (Which include, but are not limited to, enduring my home-made cooking on the daily, and saying goodbye to eating out. Also more dog hair, and less clean laundry… maybe he should start a list!) It was vital that we were on the same page before we took this big step. I have been interested in fostering a dog for years, but it has been a serious conversation in our home for at least the past 3 months. This has given us a chance to voice our concerns, and work out all of the details.

For example, it is important to note that we will never be a 3-perma-dog family. Especially with children on the foggy horizon, we would not have the time to devote to a 3rd four-legged family member on a permanent basis, at least not in the same capacity we will with our foster. It was important to establish early on, that we will not be making this dog a permanent member of our family. For each dog we are able to foster, we are not only saving that dog, but also making room for one more to come in to the shelter. Giving two dogs better odds for a happy life is such a gift to us. If we took on a 3rd dog permanently, our opportunity to foster would certainly come to an end.

If you know Jonathan at all, you probably know him as a pretty tough, no-nonsense type of guy. He “gets things done”, especially at work, and has high expectations of those around him. If you only know him on the surface, then you probably aren’t privy to some of the (many!) things I love about him, which include his compassion (I’m guessing I owe that to the 4 sisters he grew up with, but that’s a story for another day!)

“Dad, please put down the computer and play wif me…”

Last night, while we were outside with our dogs and making some physical preparations for the foster (more on that later), he got kind of quiet and looked up at me. “What if we can’t give her up?” he said softly. Both by his tone of voice, and his choice of pronoun, I knew he was picturing his instant attachment to Gaige, and what it would have meant to say goodbye to her. This was one of those moments when I was reminded so clearly how lucky I was to have him as my partner in this journey. We talked about what it would mean to take on a 3rd dog permanently, both by the strain it would put on our lifestyle, and how it would defeat our purpose of helping unwanted dogs. By the end of the conversation, we were on the same page, but it was important that we both voice those concerns. It will not be easy to let this pup go, but hopefully he or she will one day capture the heart of a family that will make the transition that much easier.

4) Prepare Physically

No, I am not referring to bulking up at the gym, in preparation for

“Look at the stick I brought you, Mom! Please throw it.”

leash pulling and ball throwing. Although Jonathan would love the opportunity to spend more time lifting weights, I am talking about preparing our home for the arrival of our foster dog.

First, the inside of our house needs to be prepared. We have purchased a kennel for crate-training, and are acquiring the necessary blankets, toys, bowls, leashes, and collars. We will also be buying some sturdy baby gates, as these are the best way to do some of the final dog introductions, before the dogs are finally allowed to interact together. It will also serve to confine the

“We can share!”

dog to smaller areas during house-training. Finally, we have a spare bedroom that we will set-up for the dog, to serve as his or her ‘den’ for quiet time.

Perhaps more exciting, are our plans for the outside of our home. We are lucky enough to live on a large property, and this has served us well with our own dogs. Tonka, the ever loyal guy that he is, will never leave an approximately 50 foot radius of our house, for worry that he will miss me coming or going. Gaige, on the other hand, is certainly an adventurous little wanderer. Luckily, she loves her big brother, and usually won’t travel too far from him. We have discussed the idea of fencing in our back yard (usually on the mornings that Gaige made me late for work by taking a morning stroll through the horse pastures) but this time, we have real purpose. Especially during the early introductory stages, a large fenced-in play area will be invaluable for us, and for the happiness of all 3 dogs. Unfortunately, as ‘invaluable’ as it may be to all of us, building a fence is actually something that requires a lot of cashola, so I have scraped together my pennies, and have since been researching our options. Then, I realized that I needed to add even more pennies to my stash. 😉 We are still debating the merits of wood vs vinyl vs aluminum… please feel free to weigh in on the comment section below! We would love to hear advice from other puppy parents, foster or otherwise.

We do have the area mapped out, with lots of shade trees included. I told Jonathan that these trees just had to be within the fence… otherwise, where would the pups lay to munch on sticks and wrestle? So, it was decided that shade trees were a necessity. Also, the fence will be between 5 and 6 feet, to deter jumping / climbing.

Before we can have the fence installed, Jonathan laid the ground rule that we have a healthy layer of grass on the ground. Obviously bringing brains to the table as my better/smarter half, he reasoned that a muddy back yard would defeat the purpose of having it as a play and exercise area. So, we have been busy spreading seed, watering the lawn, and layering with straw. And by we, I mean mostly he. I spend most of the time playing with the pups and taking pictures, keeping him company while he sweats in the sun. See photographic evidence below…

Helping Dad water the lawn…

And pick up sticks…

Spreading straw…

And monitoring pests!
(No praying mantises were harmed in the taking of this photo.)

We will continue to keep you updated as we come closer to bringing our pup home. Future posts will include;

  • A new camera, to bring you better pictures of our antics!
  • The Foster Application Process
  • The Unwanted Animal Problem
  • PETA
  • Other Foster Family Blogs

Please continue to follow us on our journey, share this blog with friends & family members, and comment with advice and/or suggestions. We really appreciate your support and interest, more than you know!