Friday, September 5, 2008

Introducing Lacy

Okay, I don't have a new picture yet, but I just couldn't wait to tell you about my newest foster dog. I wrote about her last week, and picked her up yesterday. Lacy's story is all too common, and yet it still makes me sad. Her owners lived in a mobile home that they rented, and they left town and left Lacy behind. She lived outside until some neighbors called the landlord and reported the dog being left. Now in most cases, a landlord would call the city to pick up the animal. Since this took place in a small town in Lincoln County, the dog would most likely have ended up at a small outdoor pound for a short time and then been euthanized. However, Lacy was lucky. This landlord cares about animals, and instead of just calling the city to deal with the problem, she started making phone calls on Lacy's behalf. She had a neighbor of the people who abandoned Lacy provide Lacy with food and water until she could be given a home, and she put out the word with rescue groups that Lacy needed help. I posted about this, trying to find someone to help her. Another foster mom read the post and said she could make room for Lacy at her house, even though she has several other dogs right now. So Lacy was going to escape the fate of so many other abandoned dogs. The landlord didn't stop there - she picked up Lacy, took her to the groomers to get her cleaned up, and then made a donation to help with Lacy's medical care. Lacy couldn't have asked for a better human to help her out - a far cry from the humans who were supposed to be caring for her but left her to fend for herself instead! Now Lacy is a Heartland dog, and she's temporarily living at my house. She'll go to the vet and get spayed, microchipped, vaccinated and all that good stuff, and then be ready for adoption. She'll go to a new home where she will never have to worry about being left again! This is the happily-ever-after that so many dogs don't get. And I love being a part of making it happen - its the best thing about fostering!

One interesting thing about Lacy is the effect she's had on Elvis. It's always a little bit scary to bring home a new dog, because I never know how they will react to my other dogs, or how my other dogs will react to them. The "correct" way to do it, according to some dog training experts, is to take several weeks to introduce the dogs gradually. Let them be aware of each other but never close together to start off. This is fine when introducing a new dog to your own family, but it doesn't work so well for fosters. I might only have a dog for a couple of weeks, and if I keep them separated from my own "pack" the whole time, they might not get any attention at all! So I think, even though it is stressful on the dog to just join in the pack right away, it is more stressful to be left alone for so much time. Dogs are pack animals, and while they crave social contact, they especially crave contact with humans. We've bred this into them, and I think the worst thing you can do to a dog is to lock it away and ignore it. This is what many people do when they have "outside" dogs. I'm not against dogs being outdoors, but if you spend your life inside, your dog is most likely going to want to be inside too! Anyway, for most dogs, the one thing they want is to be with people. I think this is especially true of the dogs I've brought home because they've been locked away in shelters or cages or left outdoors alone in most cases. So I just introduce them to my pack right away, and so far its been fine. I'd like to claim it is because I'm a strong "pack leader" but actually its probably just because I've had all good well-socialized dogs so far! Besides, my dog Remi wouldn't hurt anyone, but he is very intimidating to other dogs because he's so big, so that usually puts a stop to most dogs thinking they want to start trouble. Anyway, back to Elvis. I introduced Lacy to Bailey first, because she's small and definitely not threatening. Of course, Bailey is a 10 week old puppy, so the one thing she IS, is annoying! :-) Immediately she started jumping all over Lacy and trying to lick her face, and Lacy didn't like that! She growled at her to warn her off. So, with that introduction not going quite as smoothly as I hoped, I put Bailey back in the house and brought out Remi and Elvis. It went surprisingly well - within about 5 minutes she was running around the yard with Elvis playing! The VERY surprising part, is that when they all went inside, Elvis still wanted to play -- he even picked up a toy!! I know this sounds silly, but he has never ever touched any of the dog toys since he came to my house. He'll go outside and play chase/tag with the other dogs in the back yard, but he doesn't touch the toys out there, and he doesn't want to play or touch the dog toys inside either. Until Lacy - now he's running around inside, barking, smiling, playing with a ball, and generally acting like a fool - I think he's in love! Lacy seems equally taken with him - its great to watch!

Oh, Reese hasn't met Lacy yet because she got adopted on Wednesday, but she's being returned tomorrow because it turns out the guy who adopted her lives in a condo and they changed their rules recently to not allow pit bulls. Sigh - it was such a good match, so I'm sorry for both Reese and the guy that it didn't work out. Anyway, she'll get to meet Lacy tomorrow night I guess. Tomorrow I'm leaving Elvis home from PetSmart because he doesn't like it there, and I'm going to take some dogs from one of the other foster homes. Their foster mom just had a baby so she is quite busy at the moment! Hopefully we can get a few of those dogs adopted and maybe even a few of my kittens!

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