Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Failing Ziggy

The hardest part of fostering is when we fail. I'm not talking about "failed fosters", which is what we call foster parents who fail to give up their foster pets and end up adopting them instead. I'm talking about when we fail our fosters by not caring for them properly, or not finding them the right adoptive home. In spite of our best efforts, this does happen. But that doesn't make it any easier. And now, I fear that I have failed Ziggy.

When I first brought Ziggy home, I knew right away that he was a challenge. In fact, about a week after I brought him home, I made arrangements with a local shelter expert to temperament test him. I was sure he would fail, and we planned to have him euthanized at that point. I had never euthanized a foster dog before, but I thought Ziggy would be the exception. It made me really sad, but he was pushy and aggressive with not only his sister, but also the two adult dogs in the house (Remi and Noelle). What kind of four-month-old puppy takes on a Great Dane and an adult pit bull with no regard for his own safety? I knew with that kind of behavior, I could not keep him safely at my house. So the evaluation was scheduled, and I tried hard to not get any more attached to the silly dog than I already was.

Then Ziggy got sick. He had Parvo, and what a tough decision that was. Do we spend the money to treat this dog who is being evaluated to be euthanized? Is it fair to our donors who gave us their donations, or is it being wasteful? But is it fair to Ziggy to just euthanize him instead of treating him? What if his aggressive behavior with the other dogs was because he wasn't feeling well? I had my doubts, but my rescue group didn't - they said let's treat him and hope for the best. So we did. And he recovered, and his behavior did change! He could still be pushy, but he was at least manageable. He learned to get along with not only Remi and Noelle but also all of the other foster dogs and even the cats. And so life with Ziggy began.

It's been a roller coaster since then. Ziggy never fails to amuse me. He is silly and rambunctious and incorrigible. He is the most food-motivated dog I have ever met. He is also the smartest dog I have ever met. He is stubborn and yet easily distracted. He is independent and has no desire to cuddle with anyone. He doesn't particularly enjoy being petted. He ignores trees and fire hydrants but loves to sniff storm drains. He is just goofy, all of the time. Life with Ziggy is always amusing, but it is not always easy. He can be pushy with the other dogs. He guards his crate and his food and even the water bowl and will scare the other dogs away with just a lifted lip and a low growl. I have to be on constant alert and can't leave him unattended. In addition to the potential for a dog fight, he can't be unattended around children because he is too mouthy. I still end up with bruises on a regular basis from Ziggy deciding to get my attention by jumping up and grabbing my arm in his mouth. He is not aggressive with people, just mouthy when he wants to play or when he is frustrated. I've been trying to train him to stop that from the time I got him, but in spite of his intelligence, we have had limited improvement in that area.

So now we're talking about a dog that can't go to a home with children, can't go to a home with a dominant dog, can't go to a home with a small dog, and has to have someone who is very experienced to handle him and is able and willing to work a lot with him. In addition they have to not be afraid of pit bulls, not live in a city that has breed bans, not have one of several insurance companies that have breed bans, and be willing to deal with the extra work that a deaf dog like Ziggy requires. Oh, and they have to accept that Ziggy is not at all a typical pit bull. He has loyalty only to anyone who has food in their hand, and he doesn't like to cuddle. He is so not a typical pit bull. And lately he's developed some more pushy behavior with people. He's still Ziggy - he's the same goofy dog I've been writing about for the past year and a half. But his behavior continues to get worse instead of better, and I have been unable to change that.

Ziggy prepares for boot camp
As a last chance effort, I have found a boot camp rehab facility for dogs that is willing to take in Ziggy for several weeks to try to change his behavior. Another rescue group in our area has had a lot of success with this, so we're going to give it a try. I have to be honest with you guys - there are so many of you who have followed this adventure with Ziggy and cheered for him from the beginning, and I hate to say this. But this really is a last-ditch effort. If this doesn't work, I'll be looking for a sanctuary for him, and if that can't be found, he may have to be euthanized. We're doing everything we can to prevent that, but his behavior has become worse to the point that he can't safely be adopted out, and is getting to where I can't even handle him anymore. So we are really hoping this rehab works for him.

I'm going to be setting up a chip-in fund to help pay for Ziggy's rehab.  There's no guarantee it will help, but I have to try.  If you can donate a dollar or two to help pay his way through rehab, that would be greatly appreciated.  I'm going to ask if they'll work on treating his drinking problem while he is there.


Frankie Furter said...

I will cross my paws that this Works fur Ziggy. Who knows... it is pawsible that he may even find his furever home there!! Let us look on the Bright Side.

brooke said...

This is heartbreaking, but understandable. If his temperament doesn't make him an viable for adoption, then you don't have many choices. Especially since you have other pets of your own to consider... and other fosters down the line.
Poor Zig, poor you! I hope this boot camp can help him!

Two Pitties in the City said...

We have been reading about Ziggy's journey from the beginning, and it is so hard to hear his lack of progression. We do know that in the world of dog adoption people often have to make difficult decisions (which is why I really, really commend what you do), and we really, really hope that the boot camp will work.

Lola and also Franklin, too said...

It sounds like you're in a really tough spot and Ziggy sounds even more unusual than we thought he was. Most dogs do form attachments no matter what their temperment, don't they? We'll have paws crossed that this works. You have gone many extra miles for Ziggy but it does sound like the situation may be getting dangerous as it is now.

Kari in WeHo said...

We really hope that bootcamp works and we would be heartbroken if he has to be put down but we also understand. There are SO MANY dogs out there that need homes that at some point you have to make these tough decisions and do what is best for you and the dog.


Sue said...

Have you talked with Best Friends about taking him in? They've handles difficult cases including the Vick dogs.

I'm so sorry to hear this about Ziggy. To all of us, he's cute and funny and incorrigible, but you're living with a bad situation and it's getting worse. I hope he can be saved, but I know you won't make any decisions lightly.

Cupcake said...

Please don't think you have failed Ziggy. You have taken care of him, trained him, loved him, watched over him, helped him, fed him and on and on. I support you in whatever decision you make.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I can totally relate to your frustration. I was looking at the same option when a miracle occurred and the right home appeared for Alf. Different circumstances, totally, but euthanasia was the alternative.

I don't do internet finances, Please email (giantspeckledchihuahua(at)live(dot)com) me a snail mail addy and I will put a money order in the mail. Hopefully bootcamp will provide the miracle Ziggy needs!

Oh! Please! You have NOT failed Ziggy! You have given him a year and a half of love and understanding.
And more importantly, the tools he will need to excel at school!

We <3 Ziggy! (and you!!!!)

Erika and Blair,xoxo said...

My heart is breaking for Ziggy especially since I have followed you since the first day you got him. I have grown to love his troublesome antics and have shared his silly stories with friends. It is your adventures with him that lead to hope that someday I can rescue deaf dogs and pitbulls too. I'm so sorry to hear the downside of living with Ziggy and I hope that every possibility is looked into before putting down such a healthy dog. However heartbroken all of us readers are, I'm sure that you are feeling much worse. I hope you find happiness in the life that you have given Ziggy, one that he almost didn't have. Good Luck with the Boot Camp, I hope to god it works. We will be praying for him up here in Ontario like we pray for all pitbulls.

Kolchak Puggle said...

Your blog today broke my heart, not because of Ziggy, but because of you. You haven't failed him. We fail our rescues by trying to force them into situations where they can't be successful. If you adopted him out to a home with small kids and a chihuahua, just to get rid of him, but knowing it would never work, then you've failed. But acknowledging that Ziggy has issues and trying to help him overcome them is a success, no matter the outcome. He is lucky to have such a wonderful foster home to try and help him - and we will be sending prayers that this bootcamp can help bring out his best.

Leila said...

I think that part of our stewardship as dog owners and as those who are fostering is to see the big picture. You are brave enough to be able to see the big picture. You have not failed him in anyway.

We all want Ziggy to succeed. You've shown that he has charm, quirks and a heart. Despite everything, you are still providing an opportunity for him.

I can say that I love that punky guy. You've done a remarkable job. We'll be praying for you and for Ziggy.

Corbin said...

You feel such a responsibility to your fosters,and you only want what is best for them. It is so very hard when a foster dog that you love so much has issues beyond help. I have yet to cross this bridge with fostering, and I pray I never do, but I know many who have. I pray that this bootcamp works out for him! I know it will be very hard on you if it doesn't. But you have done so much for him... sometimes it's better for them to end their life on a happy note with you than on a court order after biting someone or another animal. God bless you and the work you have done for him! We'll be keeping fingers and paws crossed and we'll be waiting for the next update on sweet Ziggy.
-Corbin's mom, Jenn

Amanda said...

Just HUGS Laurie and Zig. Sadly, I've been with far too many dogs as they crossed the bridge (which there you have it, a particularly hard loss was a big reason I disappeared from blogging; the pain forced me inward I guess). I'm going to hold out every hope for you and for Ziggy...but as so many others echoed, you haven't failed him. Rather you've given him every opportunity to succeed and thrive.

Bless you a million times over Laurie!!!

Susan Blatz said...

Oh my gosh, you gave Ziggy the best chance a guy ever had. He is a lucky dog. But, he has to be adoptable, and he has to be a safe dog to live with a family.
You have to be able to trust him.

Anonymous said...

Miss Laurie...I don't know what I can say that we haven't already said. Or that somebuddy else hasn't already said. Just please know that we luv you both a whole, whole lot and we're here for you in any way you need us. In fact, I think I spied a few green papers left in my mom's wallet. I'm gonna go get 'em out right now. But, uh, don't tell her, okay?

Gentle wiggles & wags,

H Ski said...

I am so sorry to hear this. But it is more than obvious that you have put in a lot of hard work for Ziggy. And you have in no way failed Ziggy in my eyes. You took him in and worked hard with him and gave him a good life. That is much more that most would be willing to do for him. And you are still trying to provide the best life for him. That is in no way failing him.

Casey Jones said...

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." ~ Thomas Edison

You have not failed, you have learned. You know Ziggy better than anyone and will make the righ decision. Hope boot camp works. You are so in my thoughts and prayers.

Dee and Casey

Tucker said...

We have only recently started following Ziggy's story, but he has certainly found a place in our hearts, and we wish him, and you, the very best. The pups had some toy money saved up that they wanted to contribute to Ziggy's boot camp tuition, and we hope that will help.

Whatever happens, please don't feel that you have failed. If every dog in the world had an advocate such as Ziggy had in you, the world would be a far better place. Thank you.

Tucker's Mom

Bobby said...


Anonymous said...

wishing you continued courage, tenacity, and clarity of vision to make the right choice--whatever it turns out to be.

follow our foster:

Macho (And Nicole!) said...

This post makes us sad! We don't think you are failing Ziggy, and your blog is proof of that!

We weren't able to donate too much but did just chip in a small donation to the Boot Camp fund. We hope Ziggy is able to go so that he can one day find a great forever home!