Monday, July 23, 2018

Introducing Joy

Today I brought home a new foster dog.  I've named her Joy.

Joy came from a very sad situation.  She was living in a van with twelve other dogs and one cat.  Animal Control came in and rescued them, and she's been at the shelter for awhile.  She's very shy, so one of the workers asked if I wanted to foster her, since she's so scared at the shelter.  So tonight I brought her home.

I was prepared for a shy dog, and thought I would have to keep her on a long leash outside and spend a lot of time getting her comfortable with me.  Instead she bonded to me quickly and gave me kisses on the way home.  She goes in and out of the house without any fear, or the need for a leash (into a fenced yard).  She comes to me for petting and seems to feel safe with me, which is awesome.

However, she is very scared of many things.  The sound of the car doors locking made her jump about a foot.  I turned the television on very quietly, since I thought it might scare her, and sure enough, the box with moving pictures was something she was obviously not familiar with.  She ran back and forth behind my chair staring intently at the TV for at least 15 minutes.  She is doing awesome with the other dogs and with my cat Merlin.  I think with a little bit of time to build her up confidence she will be a very happy dog.

By the way, when thinking of a name for her, the name "Joy" just popped into my head.  I thought maybe it was because I was naming her the opposite of what she seems to be feeling so much - fear.  But then I remembered a dog that I fostered from 2008.  She looked similar and also had to learn to overcome a lot of fear.  Her name was also Joy

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Introducing Franki

This is Franki.  She is a mixed up dog.  She is a mixed breed (probably Catahoula Leopard Dog).  Her eyes are mixed (one blue, one half blue and half brown).  Even her coat is mixed (black and white mixed in a pattern called "Blue Leopard").  Mixed up dogs are my favorite.  Franki was adopted out six months ago but recently returned because her adopters became mixed up on how to properly train her.  Her previous foster mom couldn't take her back, so she came to my house. 

So far, Franki has been on her best behavior.  She is house-trained, doesn't chew on things she isn't supposed to, listens well, is quiet while in her crate, and does great with my dog Nova.  She's a bit scared of strangers, and a bit too interested in cats, so we do have some things to work on, but overall she's a wonderful and very easy dog to foster.  I think with her unique mixed up looks, it shouldn't take her long to find a new home!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Leah's Story

A year ago I fostered a Chihuahua named Blondie and her three puppies – Lee, Leo and Leah.  Leah was the only girl, and she was twice the size of the two boys.  She was the fearless leader of the group, always exploring and chewing and getting into trouble.  I adored her.  She was quickly adopted, and went to a good home with a loving owner and two other dogs.  Last week I was sad to learn that Leah was being returned.  The reason isn’t important, although I was disappointed that the family decided to return her.  When she went out, she was a silly fat sassy puppy. 
Puppy Leah
When she came back, she was a terrified, anxious, depressed dog.  She won’t leave her kennel.  She won’t eat, drink, or even move when anyone is around.  She has laid in the same spot, huddled against the back of the kennel, for a week and refused to make eye contact.  This morning we had a bit of progress.  She ate a piece of chicken while I was in the room.  It’s heartbreaking to see how afraid she is, and how much she misses her family. I’m trying Rescue Remedy, DAP collars, and other options to try to help her overcome her depression.  I am hoping she will have a happy ending to her story.  That she will come out of her shell and bond to a new person and hopefully find an owner that will be her forever family.

Update: Leah has found her forever home!  She is happy again and doing well in her new home.

Monday, March 31, 2014


When I first brought home Ziggy, I quickly realized he wasn't a "normal" dog.  Sure, he did normal dog things, like barking and chewing and playing with toys.  But he didn't want affection or petting, and the only thing he cared about was food.  He didn't bond with people or other dogs, and didn't want them around unless they were willing to provide the one thing he cared about - food!  We've never really figured out what makes Ziggy the way he is.  With a lot of hard work we've taught Ziggy to accept petting and attention, but he still only tolerates it in hopes of getting rewarded with food.  It's made him basically unadoptable as a pet dog, but it also makes him a very motivated dog when it comes to working.  Recently I've tried to channel that motivation into a new goal - to become a certified Search and Rescue dog! 
About five months ago I joined CSARA, a local search and rescue group.  I recently earned my SarTech II certification, and now I've started to focus on training Ziggy to be a cadaver dog.  This is a video of a recent training session: 

There are three main types of Search and Rescue dogs.  Two of those - Air Scent and Trailing - search for living people.  The third type of dog searches for human remains.  This is an important part of Search and Rescue since it can assist law enforcement in investigations and provide loved ones with closure.  It is also the type that is most appropriate for Ziggy since he is deaf and not that big a fan of living people. 

Becoming certified as an HRD (human remains detection) dog is a long process that involves a lot of training.  We've only started, and have a very long way to go.  Ziggy will have to learn to detect sources that are buried or elevated, and he will have to learn to ignore all distractions along the way.  Although he may never reach the goal of being certified, we are having fun learning together.  Eventually I hope to adopt a dog specifically for Search and Rescue, and the time spent practicing with Ziggy will help me train a future dog.  Ziggy doesn't understand anything about certifications or tests - he just knows that if I give him the sign for Search, it means it is time for a fun game where when he wins, he gets his favorite thing - food! 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What A Foster Home Intake Coordinator Does (aka Why I Love My Job)

Many animal rescue groups are made up of only foster homes.  This means they don't have a shelter, and every time they rescue an animal, they have to find a place for it to stay until it is adopted.  The group I volunteer with, All Paws Rescue, currently has around 30 active foster homes for dogs.  This means that we constantly have dogs coming into our rescue, being fostered, being adopted out, and then new ones coming in.  Coordinating all of the dogs coming in and going out can be a lot of work, but everyone cooperates to make it go smoothly.  A couple of years ago I volunteered to be the Dog Intake Coordinator (there is also a Cat Intake Coordinator who handles all of the cat intakes and cat foster homes).  Like everything else in our rescue, this is a volunteer position - no one in our group gets paid!  We just do this because we love to help animals.  So the way I help as the dog intake coordinator is to make sure our dog foster homes have what they need in the form of paperwork, supplies, and dogs. When a volunteer tells me they are ready to take on a foster dog, I try to match one to them that is a good fit.  Some of our foster homes can only take in hypoallergenic dogs, or small dogs, or female dogs, or other special requirements, so whenever possible I try to match up a dog in need with the available foster home to make sure it works out for everyone.  However often the dogs that need rescue don't come with information like if they are house-trained, or if they get along with small dogs, or if they like cats.  That is why many foster animals come to my house or another experienced volunteer's house for a short time for an evaluation.  Then when another foster home opens up that is a good fit for that dog, the dog goes to that home and that opens up a space for us to take in another dog to evaluate.  The down side is I end up having to give most of the "easy" dogs to other foster homes, and the only ones that stay with me are those with issues.  But the up side is I get to foster a lot of awesome dogs. 
For example, tonight after work I am picking up this dog:

His name was Prince and then it was recently changed to Baxter, so at the moment I'm calling him Prince Baxter, until I find out which one he answers to.  He looks so adorable, I'm thinking he'll probably be a very short-term foster dog.  But then again, he could turn out to have issues and be stuck with me for awhile!  I can only hope!

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Give Up!

I started this blog as a way to track all of the foster animals coming into my house. I'm happy to announce that I can no longer keep up with the number of animals I have been able to play a small part in saving. Between my job and my volunteer duties with animal rescue, I have been too busy to keep up with this blog, and can no longer share pictures and updates on every single animal that passes through my home. Instead, I've decided to just focus on the stories. Every animal has a story, just like every person, and I'll just pick a few of those to share with you as I have time. I will try to share details of adoptions and new intakes on my Facebook page from now on, so check it out if you'd like.

Today's story is about a dog named Copper, and his best friend Tod.  Copper and Tod started out their lives like the puppies pictured in this video.  They most likely were born here, grew up in this home, and knew nothing beyond life on a chain.

Two years later, the Humane Society of the United States, along with other rescue groups, stepped in and saved these animals.  Copper is in the video, at the 0:22 second mark, and Tod is shown just a few seconds later.  By the time they were saved, they knew only enough to be terrified of everything that was new.  That included people, television, ceiling fans, car rides, and everything that most dogs take for granted.  A soft bed to sleep on was something they'd never had before.  The freedom to run in a straight line instead of a small circle?  Unknown to them.  When being taken outside on leash they would continuously run in circles and panic at the sound of a truck or motorcycle, or the sight of people.  The dogs and cats that were rescued from this home have been adopted out or placed into rescues and shelters where they can find forever homes.  Tod and Copper are two of the most fearful of the group, so they came to All Paws Rescue, and are going to need a lot of work in order to be able to be adopted.

I've had some practice with fearful dogs after fostering Bogey and Bunny.  They've both shown a lot of improvement and were eventually adopted into homes who continued to work with them.  In both cases I've heard from their families recently and they are doing great!  So when I heard that Tod and Copper needed help, I immediately contacted Bogey's mom who has continued to foster for us. She agreed to take Tod, the shyest of the two, and work with him until he can be adopted.
That left me with Copper, at least for now.  I love working with shy dogs, but due to my work schedule and living so far from civilization, I don't spend as much time with the dogs as I would like.  So I am fostering Copper until he is adopted or until we find a foster home who wants to work with him.
So far, Copper is making very slow improvement.  He likes to follow me around, as long as he thinks I'm not looking at him. We've started taking walks in the farmland around my house and he seems to enjoy that.  He is getting used to living in a home, and getting used to me.  He is heartworm positive so is starting treatment for that, and he's recently become very interested in the new kitten I brought home.

In a way, Tod and Copper's stories are just beginning.  We've started a Facebook page to track their progress, and I hope that they will both show more and more improvement and eventually find happy forever homes just like Bogey and Bunny!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Few Quick Updates

Trixie is a Boston Terrier mix, possibly mixed with Tasmanian Devil.  She is very playful, and has a lot of energy.  Trixie loves everyone, and thinks that everyone also is very playful and has a lot of energy.  It takes four normal dogs to wear out Trixie, if she plays with them one at a time until they get tired.  I have no idea how many humans it takes to wear out Trixie because it hasn't been done yet.  Trixie does occasionally settle down after wearing out all the dogs and humans in the house, and on those occasions she is happy to cuddle up and go to sleep.  Of course by that time I've been asleep for hours, so I usually miss this exciting event.  By the time I get up in the morning, she is once again ready to play! 

Trixie showing off her cute underbite

Mickey is a Chihuahua mix who was adopted out several months ago and was just returned due to not getting along with the other dog in the home. He does very well with all the dogs at my house, but he can be a bit of a bully (all eight pounds of him) so I can understand why another dog may not have wanted to put up with that. He is very well mannered with people and has been a big hit at adoption events. He is scheduled to go to a foster-to-adopt home on Monday! 


All Paws recently took in five American Eskimo Dogs after their owner passed away, and two of them (Casper and Buddy) came to my house. These were the first Eskies I have ever fostered, and I fell in love with the breed. The dogs are sweet and playful and easy-going. Buddy has moved on to another foster home now, and Casper has been adopted!
American Eskimo Dogs